Turkey, Feast of Sacrifice

Turkey begins the Feast of Sacrifice under the shadow of the coronavirus

From this Friday and during 4 days, Turkey celebrates one of the most important festivals in the Muslim world. Experts fear visiting family members will cause more outbreaks of the virus.

Turkey began four days of holidays this Friday on the occasion of the Feast of Sacrifice (Kurban Bayramı in Turkish, Eid al-Adha in Arabic), one of the most important Muslim holidays that this year is marked by the coronavirus pandemic, with fear of that contagions could pick up due to the massive displacements to visit relatives in other provinces.

The Festival of Sacrifice continues this year from July 31 to August 3, but unlike what happened during Ramadan, the authorities have not imposed any quarantine or restrictions on the movement of citizens, despite the fact that the Minister of Health reported late Thursday that 967 new infections and 15 more deaths from coronavirus had occurred in the past 24 hours.

The Interior Minister announced on Thursday that a total of 163,000 police and gendarmes will be on duty to monitor traffic, which has increased more than 30% due to travel to other provinces, with the particularity -said the minister- that this year many more people are using private vehicles instead of public transportation to visit their families.

According to tradition, an animal is sacrificed in memory of prophet Abraham

Custom dictates that on these dates people go to pray at mosques or visit the deceased in cemeteries, while families gather to sacrifice an animal according to tradition and distribute the meat among relatives, neighbours and those most in need; however, health experts and authorities have warned the public to follow precautions against the virus and to avoid physical contact, including kisses, hugs or the tradition of kissing the hands of the elderly.

There is also concern that meetings in livestock markets to buy slaughter animals will start new outbreaks of coronavirus, especially since many of these places lack the necessary hygiene due to the presence of dozens or hundreds of head of cattle, that is going to be acquired to be sacrificed.

The Feast of Sacrifice is celebrated every year -it is one of the most important in the Muslim calendar; an animal is sacrificed -usually a cow, a sheep, a ram or a lamb- and its meat is divided into three parts: one for the person who made the sacrifice, another for their neighbours, and one for poor people.

In this celebration is remembered the sacrifice that Abraham -considered a prophet by Islam, along with Noah, Moses, Jesus or Muhammad- made when God (Allah) tested his faith by asking him to sacrifice his firstborn, who according to the Koran was not Isaac -as the Bible mentions- but Ishmael. Seeing that Abraham was willing to abide by its will, God ordered him to stop, seeing that he had passed its test, and made a ram appear for sacrifice.